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Germany calls for closer EU-Bosnia ties

March 10, 2022

Germany's top diplomat says the Ukraine conflict shows the importance of ties between the EU and the Western Balkans. Bosnia is seeking to join the EU, but accession negotiations have not begun.

Annalena Baerbock and Bisera Turkovic shaking hands
Annalena Baerbock met with her Bosnian counterpart, Bisera Turkovic, in SarajevoImage: Thomas Imo/photothek/imago images

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Thursday that more efforts were needed by her country and Bosnia-Herzegovina to bring the Balkan nation further into the EU fold in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at a news conference with her Bosnian counterpart, Bisera Turkovic, in Sarajevo, Baerbock said the Ukraine conflict was proof that more rapprochement between the Western Balkans and the EU was needed.

"We want to live together in the European house," said Baerbock, who is on a three-day trip to the region that will take her on to Kosovo, Serbia and Moldova.

Baerbock also warned of a possible destabilization by nationalist tendencies in the country, which was ravaged by war in the 1990s following the breakup of Yugoslavia.

"We therefore must and will stop those who seek to jeopardize the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina for selfish reasons," Baerbock said.

She said Germany and its partners would not permit any "erosion of the security situation."

Bosnia seeks EU membership

Baerbock added that Germany would only support those who who were working to strengthen Bosnia and Herzegovina, not those seeking to destabilize and weaken it.

The remarks appeared to be a veiled reference to the Russia-backed Bosnian Serb politician Milorad Dodik, who has been seeking independence for the Serbian part of the country.

Milorad Dodik
Dodik has been fanning separatist aspirations among Bosnian SerbsImage: Dado Ruvic/REUTERS

Baebock stressed that economic cooperation would always be linked with respect for fundamental values, saying that there would be no investments if conditions for democracy and rule of law were not in place.

Turkovic urged that the process of accepting Bosnia as an EU candidate state be speeded up and that a date be set for the start of accession negotiations.

"We believe that this would be a strong contribution to peace in Bosnia ... and in Europe," she said, adding that the Western Balkans were currently "a weak point of Europe" where the EU should demonstrate strength.

Nationalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

tj/jcg (Reuters, dpa)